George Paton has a pretty good, secure spot as assistant general manager of the Minnesota Vikings. He has been there for 11 seasons.
Paton has worked with Vikings GM Rick Spielman even longer than that, having back to previous scouting work with the Miami Dolphins and Chicago Bears under Spielman’s direction since the 1990s.
“I'm really not totally sure how much of a voice Paton has in the Minnesota front office, but I do know that his name has come up in a lot of searches over the past couple of years. He and Rick Spielman go back quite a ways ... they worked together in Chicago and Miami and now again in Minnesota. That might be part of a reason that he's still with the Vikings,” said Christopher Gates of SB Nation’s Vikings web site, Daily Norseman. “He's had some interviews for different jobs over the past few seasons, but has reportedly turned down some interview opportunities as well. I'm not sure if he's looking for what he's decided is his "perfect" job or what the deal is.”
Paton has interviewed for GM jobs dating back to 2012, and was reportedly a candidate for the openings with the Indianapolis Colts and San Francisco 49ers. He can, and reportedly has, been selective about the opportunities he pursues. He is said to have turned down many opportunities to interview for GM vacancies, including with the Dolphins, Bears and New York Jets
Would the Giants be an opportunity Paton would find attractive?
“I'm not sure what he might view his "perfect" job as being. The Giants look to have a very high pick in this year's NFL Draft, so that might be a potential lure to get him there,” Gates said. “The Giants' job presents its own unique set of challenge, IMO, considering that the guy he'd be replacing had been in the job for a long time prior to getting fired a few weeks ago. In addition, the New York media market is a completely different animal from just about anywhere else, and not everyone is cut out for that sort of thing. Paton has worked in Chicago in the past, but he wasn't the head guy there, either.”
Would the Giants hire him? Ernie Accorsi is helping the Giants identify candidates, and Paton has been on the short list in searches led by Accorsi in Carolina, Chicago and Detroit.
Let’s take a closer look.
Why it would work
Paton has extensive personnel experience. He has been part of an impressive roster build in Minnesota. SB Nation’s Denver Broncos web site, Mile High Report, recently studied drafts from 2012-2017. Using “Starter Years” from Pro Football Reference as a guide, MHR ranked Minnesota’s drafts fourth overall in that time period with 52 starter years, while the Giants checked in at No. 29 with only 33 starter years.
That, obviously, isn’t a perfect measure. It is, however, enough to know that the Vikings have gotten more value from their picks than the Giants have.
The Vikings have been bolder than the Giants over the years in their approach to personnel, using trades to both accumulate draft picks and to occasionally make aggressive moves for players like Jared Allen and Sam Bradford.
Paton spent his first years in Minnesota in pro personnel, making him part of acquiring Allen, Brett Favre, Linval Joseph and others.
Why it wouldn’t work
As impressive as Minnesota’s recent roster work is, there is no way to know exactly what should and should not be attributed to Paton’s work. There is also no way to know how Paton would function out from underneath Spielman.
There is also the matter of hiring a head coach. There is no obvious connection between Paton and any obvious potential head coaching candidate other than Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur. I’m certain Paton would have people other than Shurmur on his list, there is just no real way to figure out who might interest him.
I still believe Dave Gettleman is the favorite, though he certainly isn’t a lock for the job. I have said in the past that to get the job one of the outside candidates is going to have to wow Giants’ ownership. I would pay attention to Paton. He is a guy who might just do that.